Preview: Lafayette at Army

The Army Black Knights (14-12, 4-8 in Patriot League) continues their Patriot League season ending home stand against the Lafayette Leopards (16-11, 7-5 in Patriot League ) on Wednesday at Christl Arena.

When: Wednesday February 24 @ 7PM

Where: West Point, NY at Christl Arena

On paper it is a match up of one the Patriot League best defensive team, Army allowing only 60.1 points per game, against one of the league's best offensive teams, Lafayette which averages 73.4 points per game. Both teams enter the game off dominating home victories against their archrivals. Army shutdown Navy to win the annual "Star" game, 69-50, in front of a record home crowd. Army's Patriot League leading defense forced 21 turnovers and held Navy to just 1 of 19 from beyond the arc. Lafayette rolled over their rival Lehigh 90-75 as Ryan Willen scored 22 points. Lafayette hit 59.3% of their shots from the field including a scorching 55.2% from three-point range.

Lafayette Leopards beat the Army Black Knights 77-68 at Kirby Sports Center in Easton PA in their first meeting. Jared Mintz scored 20 points to lead the Leopards to the victory. Army's lack of an inside game to match the Leopards was the difference in the first game. Lafayette was able to feed it's 6-8 forward tandem of Mintz and Willen who combined to hit 17 of 18 free throws. For the game Lafayette nailed 26 of 31 free throws (83.9%) while Army went just 5 of 8 at the line (55.6%).

The Match ups:

Lafayette won five of its first six league games. After an injury plagued, dismal 8-22 record in 2008-2009 the Leopards looked like the class of the league. It then lost four of its next five before defeating Lehigh. Against Lehigh the Leopards returned to their early Patriot League season form. Lafayette's three guard high powered offense is led by three players; forwards Jared Mintz (15.4 ppg), Ryan Willen (11.7 ppg) and guard Jim Mower (13.5 ppg). The 6-8 Mintz's play has been exceptional as he leads the Patriot league in field goal percentage (574%), is second in free throw percentage (88.1%) while pulling down 5.8 rebounds per game. Mintz is recovering from an ankle injury that caused him to miss a game. He played 25 minutes off the bench versus Lehigh in his first game back. Lafayette is a very good shooting team and will test the Black Knights defense. The Leopards lead the league in field goal percentage (45.9%), free throw percentage (75.9%)

Army's defense was at its best last Sunday versus Navy. It held the Midshipmen to a season low 50 points as it harassed the league's leading scorer Chris Harris into a 2 for 17 shooting day. Army's defense created turnovers and produce some easy baskets. Mitch Mc Donald started his second straight game at point guard and has helped Army low post game. Chris Walker benefited from the emphasis to create offense in the low blocks as he responded with a season high 14 points hitting seven of nine attempts.

Army has been more aggressive driving to the hoop to generate offense and get to the free throw line since the first meeting. Army lost by 9 points the first game despite producing seven more field goals.

Cleveland Richard is the key for Army's offense. Richard had a terrific all round game against Navy scoring 15 points, on 50% shooting, while collecting three rebounds, three steals and blocking three shots. Army needs to challenge Lafayette on the perimeter like they did the last game while keeping Mintz from dominating down low. The Black Knights are a different team at home (10-2) and have beaten the Leopards the last three games at Christl Arena.

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